Top 10 Tips For Pro-Bono or Deep Discount Coaching

Coaches may from time to time take on a client at zero or low fee. There are a number of good reasons to do this. However, it is important for both parties to feel there is an exchange of value for the relationship to persist and be powerful.

Here are some suggestions for what to ask for, and how to set up for pro-bono or nominal fee coaching. These should be covered in your intro session i.e. up front.

1) Tell them your regular full fee.
This helps them appreciate the value of the discount they are getting.

2) Charge something.
Even as low as $100 per month. This increases the client’s perception of the value of the relationship. It also starts a precedent of them paying you – e.g. writing a check or giving credit card details. It’s much easier to ask for your full fee from $100 than it is from zero.

If it’s a good friend and you feel uncomfortable charging them, you can have them write the check out to your favorite charity. (But a very powerful coach I’m mentoring is coaching their best friend, both her parents, and they’re all paying!)

3) Ask the client what they’d be comfortable paying for a trial month.

4) Suggest a bonus payment
e.g. If they reach their goal, get the job etc., they pay the full fee.

5) Suggest they pay the full fee at their option at the end of the month, and only if they love the coaching and want to continue
You can waive this later on during negotiation if necessary for them to continue.

6) Bargain for a longer time commitment
When you’re starting out, you do not want a practice client for one month, you want them for 3 months – the longer the better. Remember, money is not as important as your training and experience. It should be very empowering for them to commit to a certain time frame.

e.g. “If you’re willing to make a commitment to this, I’ll reduce my regular fee. I’ll reduce my fee to $100 per month if you are willing to commit to 6 months of coaching”. You should even ask for payment up front.

7) Ask for referrals
If you’re giving them a discount of $200-$500, let them know you expect five referrals during the month from people who would benefit from coaching, and only IF the coaching is going well. OR, tell them at the end of the month, if the coaching was of benefit, you’ll ask them for referrals to 3 -5 people.

8) Ask for a testimonial
There’s no reason not to get a paragraph from every client. It only takes a couple of minutes for them to email you, and some will be excellent!

9) Set up the expectation of what will happen at the end of t he month
e.g. “Let’s trial this for a month. If you’re loving the coaching and getting results, we’ll continue at my regular fee of $XXX. Fair enough?”. Or, “Because this is a stretch for you financially, let’s start you at 50% of my regular fee. Then we’ll increase this by $50 per month, as we increase your ability to pay via the coaching.”

10)Go for a Contra deal
So far I’ve exchanged coaching for web design, accounting advice, massage, interior decorating, and research assistance. Find out what they could offer in return for the coaching.

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